AstraZeneca, which has entered into a partnership with University of Oxford to develop a potential vaccine aimed at preventing Covid-19 infection, has said the data from phase-I trials will be available in a month and advancement to late-stage trials should take place by the middle of this year.
Once the late-stage trials begin, the company will simultaneously start working on global manufacturing capabilities. It will leverage all the manufacturing sites available globally after the vaccine compound is proven to be successful.
“If the vaccine is found to be effective and safe, the most important responsibility would be to make it available all over the world. So, we will have to activate identified manufacturing sites globally to produce the vaccine,” said Anil Kukreja, vice-president, medical affairs and regulatory, AstraZeneca India.
The trials are currently happening at five centres in England. “Based on strong preclinical data, we are hopeful that once we get the results of Phase-I trials, which will be available in a month, this candidate compound could be moved to the late-stage trials in the form of a vaccine,” said Kukreja.
The UK-based firm has also undertaken two other global research efforts to find a solution to treat Covid-19.
One of them is a Dare-19 trial for Dapagliflozin, which is available as Forxiga in India. Priced at Rs 57 per day, it is used to treat Type 2 diabetes. In a study reported in 2019, in Type 2 diabetes patients, this drug has proven to slow disease progression, particularly related to heart failure and chronic kidney ailment.
“The trial is aimed at testing the effects of the drug (Dapagliflozin) in preventing serious complications such as organ failure in patients, with pre-existing health conditions, a critical goal when treating for Covid-19 virus,” said the company.
AstraZeneca has also initiated another study called the Calavi study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Calquence (acalabrutinib), which is an approved oncology drug. The drug has shown the potential to suppress inflammation because of an overactive immune system.
Hence, the hypothesis is that it can prevent severe Covid-19 when given to patients with mild symptoms. “This drug could suppress inflammation because of an overactive immune system so that the patient does not go from moderate to severe to critical condition,” Kukreja explained.